Oh, you know the story…..
Aimé Morot – Le Bon Samaritan
25 And now a lawyer stood up and, to test him, asked, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
26 He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? What is your reading of it?’
27 He replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’
28 Jesus said to him, ‘You have answered right, do this and life is yours.’
29 But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’
30 In answer Jesus said, ‘A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of bandits; they stripped him, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead.
31 Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
32 In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a Samaritan traveller who came on him was moved with compassion when he saw him.
34 He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him onto his own mount and took him to an inn and looked after him.
35 Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper and said, “Look after him, and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.”
36 Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the bandits’ hands?’
37 He replied, ‘The one who showed pity towards him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.’
The painting above appealed to me because the Samaritan is supporting the wounded man, rather than simply ministering to him – the image used in many paintings. Sometimes we need to be carried, sometimes we must carry someone else – not, of course, forever, but until they or we are well. I have not looked much into the back-story of this painting; it seems no coincidence that the figure on the donkey resembles so closely the images we see in art of Christ taken down from the Cross.
In the UK and Ireland, and in some other countries, the secular organisation The Samaritans offers support to people suffering emotional distress and/or at risk of suicide.
The donkey of course, is a universal symbol of faithfulness, reliability and hard, hard work. If you have not seen Au Hasard Balthazar, you really should…